Nestled on the cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence River, Quebec City is a captivating blend of history, architecture, and French-Canadian charm. For travelers wondering about things to do in Quebec City, meandering through the atmospheric streets of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marveling at the impressive Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, arguably the world’s most photographed hotel, are essential experiences.
The city’s Terrasse Dufferin offers unparalleled river views and is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax and people-watch. A short distance away, the Quartier Petit Champlain, with its stone buildings and narrow lanes, transports visitors to a bygone era, offering artisan shops, cozy bistros, and seasonal decorations.
Beyond its iconic landmarks, Quebec City comes alive with festivals, from the festive Winter Carnival to the summer’s New France Festival, celebrating its rich heritage. Quebec City’s fusion of European elegance and North American spirit makes it a truly unique destination for those seeking the best places to visit in Canada.
Table of Contents
Attractions & Things to Do in Quebec City, Canada
1. Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec)
A UNESCO World Heritage treasure, Old Quebec is alive with history. The cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and fortifications offer a genuine taste of European charm. You’ll find numerous boutiques, restaurants, and historical sites, such as Place Royale and the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be walking on uneven cobblestones. Also, consider taking a guided walking tour to appreciate the history and stories of the area thoroughly.
2. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Dominating the city’s skyline, the Château Frontenac is a luxury hotel and an iconic symbol of Quebec City. Its majestic architecture and perch over the St. Lawrence River have made it one of the most photographed hotels in the world.
Travel Tip: Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, consider booking a table at one of its restaurants or visiting the bar for a panoramic view and a touch of luxury.
3. Plains of Abraham
Once a battleground where the British and French fought, the Plains of Abraham is now a vast urban park offering outstanding views of the St. Lawrence River. The park is perfect for picnicking, jogging, or simply strolling and soaking in history.
Travel Tip: Visit the park’s Plains of Abraham Museum museum to delve deeper into the events that shaped Canada’s history.
4. Quartier Petit Champlain
Nestled at the foot of Cap Diamant, Quartier Petit Champlain is a picturesque neighborhood known for its narrow streets, unique boutiques, and artisan shops. During winter, the area transforms into a winter wonderland with lights and decorations.
Travel Tip: It’s beautiful during the holiday season. However, if you’re visiting in winter, be prepared for snowy and icy street conditions.
5. Montmorency Falls
Standing taller than Niagara Falls, Montmorency Falls is a majestic natural wonder just minutes from Quebec City. A suspension bridge over the crest of the falls offers visitors a breathtaking perspective.
Travel Tip: For the adventurous, consider taking the stairway or the cable car to the top for panoramic views of the falls and the surrounding areas.
6. Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
This museum houses a significant collection of past and present Quebec art. It spans four pavilions, each highlighting a different period and style.
Travel Tip: Set aside a few hours to explore the museum thoroughly. There are often temporary exhibitions, so check their schedule in advance.
7. Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine
About 30 minutes from Quebec City, this basilica attracts millions of pilgrims and visitors annually. It’s dedicated to Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, and is renowned for its stunning architecture and the reported miracles that have occurred there.
Travel Tip: Attend a mass or light a candle for a spiritual experience. Avoid peak times like major religious holidays to avoid large crowds if possible.
8. La Citadelle de Québec
The largest British fortress in North America, La Citadelle, offers a trip back in time to the region’s British and French military history. Perched atop Cap Diamant provides a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River and Old Quebec.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony, usually held in the morning during summer. Check the schedule beforehand to ensure you catch this colorful event.
9. Observatory of the Capital
For the best 360-degree views of Quebec City, head to the Observatory of the Capital. Situated on the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building, this observatory offers a bird’s-eye view of the city’s landmarks.
Travel Tip: Visit during sunset for a mesmerizing blend of natural and city lights. There are also interactive exhibits detailing the city’s history, so budget enough time to explore.
10. Morrin Centre
This historical site has worn many hats: a military barracks, a prison, and a cultural center. It offers a deep dive into Quebec City’s English-language history and is home to the only English library in the city.
Travel Tip: Take a guided tour to explore the old prison cells and learn more about the building’s multifaceted history. You might also enjoy downtime in their cozy library if you’re an avid reader.
11. Quebec-Lévis Ferry
A fun and practical way to see Quebec City and its surroundings from the water is to take the Quebec-Lévis ferry. The short trip across the St. Lawrence River offers spectacular views, especially of the Château Frontenac and Old Quebec’s fortifications.
Travel Tip: Consider timing your ferry ride for sunset or in the evening when the city’s lights offer a magical vista. The ferry runs regularly, but checking the schedule and weather conditions is a good idea.
12. Place Royale
As the birthplace of French America, Place Royale is a charming square in the heart of Old Quebec. The stone buildings and cobblestone streets are reminiscent of a European town square, with the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church being its centerpiece.
Travel Tip: Street performers and local artisans are often in the square. Enjoy a meal or coffee in one of the surrounding cafes to truly soak in the ambiance.
13. Rue Saint-Jean
This lively street in Old Quebec has shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. Whether you’re in the mood for shopping, dining, or simply people-watching, Rue Saint-Jean offers a vibrant slice of Quebec City life.
Travel Tip: It can get crowded, especially on weekends or during festivals. Visit early in the day or on weekdays for a more leisurely experience.
FAQ About Things to Do in Quebec City, Canada
What are the top attractions in Quebec City?
Some of the top attractions in Quebec City include the historic Old Quebec, Château Frontenac, Plains of Abraham, and the Petit-Champlain district.
Is the Quebec Winter Carnival worth attending?
Absolutely! The Quebec Winter Carnival is one of the world’s largest winter festivals, featuring parades, snow sculptures, ice skating, and the famous Bonhomme Carnaval. It’s a unique experience that showcases Quebec’s vibrant winter culture.
Can I visit the Citadelle of Quebec?
Yes, the Citadelle of Quebec is open to visitors. It’s an active military base and also serves as the official residence of the Governor General of Canada when in Quebec. Guided tours are available, offering insights into its history and architecture.
Are there any scenic spots to view the city?
Definitely! The Dufferin Terrace offers a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River and parts of Old Quebec. Montmorency Falls, just outside the city, also provides a breathtaking view, especially from its suspension bridge.
What museums should I visit in Quebec City?
The Museum of Civilization, the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec, and the Naval Museum of Quebec are among the top museums that offer a deep dive into the city’s history, art, and maritime heritage.
Is Quebec City a good place for foodies?
Yes, Quebec City boasts a rich culinary scene. From traditional French-Canadian dishes like poutine and tourtière to upscale dining experiences, there’s something for every palate. Don’t forget to try the local maple syrup!
Are there any historical tours available?
Several guided walking tours are available that take visitors through the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec, sharing tales of its 400-year-old history, architecture, and legends.
Can I go on a boat tour in Quebec City?
Yes, boat tours are available that sail along the St. Lawrence River, offering a unique perspective of Quebec City’s skyline and nearby attractions like the Montmorency Falls.